Sainsbury’s Has “Far Deeper” Understanding Of Food Waste Scale

Sainsbury’s says it has a “far deeper understanding” of how to help households waste less food and save money as it announces it is furthering its Waste less, Save More initiative, which aims to help UK households reduce food waste and save money.

Following an innovative 12-month trial in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, the retailer has unveiled a pioneering 10-point plan, which includes releasing a further £1 million in funding to support 29 UK-wide Discovery Communities.

The plan is informed by trial data and qualitative insights from the pilot town and is based on three focus areas which the retailer is taking forward: Tech and Tools; Education and Inspiration and Community Engagement.

Key initiatives include a partnership with Google to identify new tech initiatives to help households reduce food waste; the launch of the first UK-wide community fridge network and the expansion of the successful schools’ education programme to hundreds of schools across the UK.

Trials conducted throughout the year in Swadlincote revealed promising results:

  • One third of households felt their awareness of food waste had risen over the course of the trial
  • Two thirds of customers said they had already or were planning to change behaviour
  • Across the seven trials within households, between 45% and 98% of participants reported a reduction in their food waste
  • Over 1,500 children were engaged in the programme, with schools saving an average of 21kg of food per week or the equivalent to nearly 80 school meals which would equate to £2,000 per school per annum
  • Food sharing initiatives, such as the Community Fridge and Olio, showed huge promise with residents sharing the equivalent of over 10,000 food items
  • The town as a whole saw a single-digit reduction in avoidable food waste, following a bin analysis by WRAP of 2% of the town’s population

Paul Crewe, Project Lead for Waste less, Save more, at Sainsbury’s, said: “We’ve learnt a huge amount as a result of our 12-month pilot. We now have a far deeper understanding of how to help households waste less food and save money, as well the scale of the challenge.

“In addition to continuing to reduce food waste in our own operations, we set out on our five-year journey to discover ways to help our customers reduce food waste at home. Where we worked directly with households and schools, we saw clear results with tangible improvements in awareness of the issue and an appetite to see what could be changed.

“We’ve learnt a huge amount as a result of our 12-month pilot. We now have a far deeper understanding of how to help households waste less food and save money, as well the scale of the challenge.”

“In addition, where we trialled interventions we saw significant reductions in the amount of food being binned and money saved. We are looking forward to the next stage of our journey, working with communities across the UK and encouraging further momentum through our 10-point plan.”

Dr David Moon, Head of Food Sustainability at WRAP, which helped Sainsbury’s evaluate its Swadlincote trial, added: “This was an aspirational undertaking and a significant investment by Sainsbury’s, to address an important issue for consumers. Our evaluation found that customers clearly valued the help they received. Swadlincote enabled Sainsbury’s to test a range of innovative interventions, while

“illustrating the massive challenge we all face in changing the way we shop, cook and store food.  We are pleased that Sainsbury’s is going to continue to help consumers take action to reduce the amount of food they throw away.”

The full 10-point plan to be undertaken by Sainsbury’s is:

Community engagement:

  • £1m of funds released to 29 UK-wide Discovery Communities for 120 development projects and trials and 118 further communities to receive support and advice to help them develop local initiatives
  • Lead supermarket partner for first UK-wide Community Fridge Network
  • Partnership with Mumsnet to crowd source real life kitchen table food waste interventions

Tech and Tools:

  • Partnership with Google to develop new practical and scalable tech solutions for households to manage food waste
  • Increase re-sealable and snap-pack packaging across 300 product lines, including cheese and nuts
  • Introduction of a new stay fresh indicator on by Sainsbury’s ham which changes colour based on temperature and time opened, acting as a reminder that the product is still good to eat

Education and Inspiration:

  • Extend Fab Food Schools Programme across hundreds of primary and secondary schools, making learning resources available to schools and welcoming pupils into our stores
  • Roll out of pilot to help inform customers on the difference between Best Before and Use By dates
  • Inclusion of food waste tips on packaging across 170+ high-waste items including berries, herbs, cheese and citrus fruits
  • Roll out of Waste less, Save more signposting and information around key kitchen items, such as blenders and spiralizers, within the Argos catalogue
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